Fisher Ian, PHLS Communicable Disease Centre, London, England
Salm-Netaims to prevent human salmonellosis within the EU by strengtheninginternational laboratory based human salmonella surveillance and creating an on-lineEuropean database of compatible data available to all participants. Salm-Netis funded by DG XII of the European Commission under the BIOMED 1 programme.The network consists of microbiologists and epidemiologists responsible fornational salmonella surveillance in 14 European countries. Salm-Net’salso aims to harmonise the schemes for the phage typing of Salmonellaenteritidis, S. typhimurium, and S. virchow.
Salm-Net became operational in January 1994 and has already facilitated the recognitionand investigation of two outbreaks. An outbreak of infection with Shigellasonnei was linked to iceberg lettuce (1) and one with S. agona waslinked to an imported snack food (2).In March 1995 the Swiss participantreported six cases of infection with S. tosamanga which had notpreviously been seen in Switzerland. A request for information was immediatelysent to the other participants. England and Wales, having reported no casessince 1962, reported four cases. Sweden reported nine cases (the first for manyyears), Ireland three, Germany two, and France one. Switzerland finallyidentified nine cases. An investigation was coordinated by the PHLS CDSC, and aquestionnaire was administered to 13 cases. No definite evidence could be foundto implicate any single product. The question remains why an extremely raresalmonella should appear in 28 human cases in six geographically separatecountries in Europe within five months?
As travel increases and trade barriers across Europe are removed, theopportunities for microorganisms to cross borders and the potential forinternational outbreaks have become greater. Collaborative surveillance schemessuch as Salm-Netare an extension of national schemes, rather than a replacement of them, andaim to assist international surveillance and protect public health.
1. CDSC. A foodborne outbreak of Shigella sonnei infection in Europe.Communicable Disease Report 1994; 4: 115
2. CDSC. An outbreak of Salmonella agona due to contaminated snacks.Communicable Disease Report 1995; 5: 29